September 17 - September 21, 2004

September 17, 2004

Docked at Montreal It was hard to leave Montreal -- there was so much more to see. The facilities were very nice, though we did not meet any boaters at the marina.  

 

We took advantage of our layover to also do some chores -- like laundry. We decided hanging our laundry outside was bad form given how busy the harbor was so we converted our salon to a laundramat. It took more than a day to dry even the synthetic clothing.   Drying laundry inside our boat

As we left Montreal, we had another wild trip on the current. But this time it was going our way, and we saw speeds of almost 13 knots (equivalent to about 15 MPH).

Montreal is a major port, where seagoing ships that are too big for the seaway canals have to stop to offload their cargo and containers. We saw lots of huge ships tied up along the channel north of Montreal.

Containers from large ships north of Montreal Harbor Container ships loading or unloading north of Montreal Harbor  

While we saw some shipping traffic on the river, we also saw some unusual boats, like this "airboat" that rides on a cushion of air. This boat was speeding amongst the marks in the channel, doing maintenance tasks.

Airboat servicing channel marker Airboat racing down river  

 

Navigating St. Lawrence River   Even though we were officially through the Seaway, navigating the river was tricky. We used a post-it note with an arrow to keep track of our progress.

Late that afternoon we pulled into a small marina at Trois Riviere. There is a small paper mill near the marina and the smells from the mill reminded Beth of home (Kaukauna, Wisconsin). They reminded Ken of rotten eggs.

That evening we were treated to a spectacular sunset.

  Sunset in Trois Riviere Another view of sunset at Trois Riviere

September 18, 2004

Just before we departed Trois Riviere for Quebec City, we met a couple who were participating in an artists' symposium in an exhibition hall nearby. The artist, Roger Hardy, and his friend, Yoko, live in Quebec City and we agreed to try to get together when we reached Quebec City.

In the interest of cross-training, Ken decided that Beth needed to get proficient at operating the boat in harbors so he gave her lesson 101 in the techniques for getting the boat out the harbor at Trois Riviere. After several aborted tries (spiced up by Ken jumping up and down and gesticulating wildly), Beth managed to get us out of the harbor. We learned a few things about communication (or lack thereof!).

Picturesque church along St. Lawrence River   Our trip to Quebec City was uneventful. We passed by some pretty towns and many silver-colored church steeples dotted the countryside.

 

We hadn't seen many pleasure craft on the river, but as we got close to Quebec City we saw many sailboats sailing in the difficult currents off Quebec City.   Sailboats near Quebec City

 

Locking into Quebec City Harbor   Getting into the harbor at Quebec City was an experience -- we had to go through a small lock! Boats have to go through the lock everytime they want to get out into the river! It was a pretty smooth process, though.

Just after we docked, three sailors, Martin, Danielle, and their daughter, Catherine, stopped by for a visit. They were out sailing and saw us as we came into the harbor. Martin and his family live on their boat in the harbor during the summer. We gave them a tour of the boat and they invited us to dinner (pretty good trade!).

Visiting with Danielle and Martin on their boat   We had a delicious spahetti dinner with our new friends and Martin spent several hours talking with us about what we could expect on the river north of Quebec City. He made diagrams of harbors and gave us some invaluable strategies for negotiating the currents and tides. We felt so much more confident after these discussions.

 

Martin and his family hope to begin their own ocean voyage next year. Catherine, their daughter, seems very happy and comfortable living on a boat.   Catherine getting ready for some shut eye

September 19, 2004

Street in front of Chateau Frontenac   We spent some time checking out the sites in Old Quebec City and we were amazed at how large the historic area was.

 

The streets near the popular sites were quite crowded as several cruise ships had just pulled in.   Streets of Old Quebec City

We didn't have much time, so we indulged in something that was interesting to each of us. Ken was happy as a clam when we visited the Musee du Fort, where we learned all about the important battles between the French, English and Americans that took place at Quebec. If the Marquis de Montcalm had just guarded that path up the bluffs west of the city, we might all be speaking French...

Beth was thrilled when Ken spotted the Choco-musee Erico (chocolate museum) and even Ken took an interest in the history of chocolate making. The best part was getting the free samples.   Ken admiring the exhibilts at Choco musee

Just as Beth suspected all along, we learned that chocolate has many fine qualities, including preventing cavities and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. We took the opportunity to replenish the chocolate inventory (which had been sadly depleted by several days without resupply.)

Betty Boop, Elvis, and Sylvester Stallone   In the touristy section of Quebec City, some of the storefronts were a bit over the top -- this store featured Betty Boop, Elvis, and Sylvester Stallone all in one sweeping view.
The view of Quebec City from our boat was beautiful. At one point we had both the Chateau Frontenac (left) and moon (right) in view at once.   Quebec City skyline with waxing moon

September 20, 2004

Beth returning from grocery shopping trip   For the most part, we got around by walking. Our new friend, Danielle was nice to give Beth a ride to the grocery store on her way home. We have a very sturdy cart so the return trip by foot wasn't strenuous even with a full load of groceries.

We began to feel more and more like the end of the season was closing in on us and we still have a lot of distance to go before we are in the Atlantic. While we are headed north, hardy Quebec sailors are pulling their boats in for the season.

Boat entering travel lift well for hauling Boat getting hauled for the season  

Even with those thoughts mulling around in our heads, we had a delightful evening with Roger Hardy and Yoko, the people we met in Trois Riviere. Roger is an accomplished and successful painter and we enjoyed the visit to his studio.

Roger and Yoko at their apartment Roger and Yoko invited us to a delicious dinner at their apartment. Here you can see one of Roger's beautiful landscape paintings over his shoulder. We indulged in "Whippets" (chocolate cookies). Beth sacrificed some of her chocolate inventory as a gift.  

 

While Roger does much of his work outdoors, he has a nice studio in his apartment for working when the weather is bad.   Getting tour of Roger's studio

The friends we met in Quebec made our stay very special. In general the French-speaking people of Quebec, Montreal and the small towns along the St. Lawrence have all been warm and friendly -- willing to try what English they have and willing to listen to Beth's rusty but rapidly improving French. No sign at all of the somewhat cool reception we remember from Paris a few years back.

(After years of jokes about how Beth mangles English, Ken has to admit that she's doing a pretty reasonable job of communicating in French.) We both wish that we could speak it better, though.

September 21, 2004

Queen Mary 2 approaching On the way out of Quebec we met a large blue ship -- the Queen Mary 2 (QM2) -- brand new and the largest passenger ship ever built.  
Passing Queen Mary 2 port-to-port Queen Mary 2 departing  

We tried to hail her on the VHF radio, but she didn't respond. She had an escort of small boats from the neighboring villages that came out to see her go by, as well as a helicopter.

For a minute or two some of the local paparazzi decided we were more interesting than the Queen Mary so they motored over to check us out.   Local paparazzi checking us out

The QM2 had been scheduled to stop in Newfoundland, but had to get out of the Gulf of the Saint Lawrence because of an extremely violent storm created by the remains of some hurricanes. This is a bit sobering, because guess where we have to go.

Storm which chased Queen Mary 2 out of Gulf of St. Lawrence This big, ugly storm chased the QM2 out of the Gulf of St. Lawrence  

We can get satellite pictures and weather maps over our SSB radio, and we are using them to try to find a weather window for a fast (and hopefully not too exciting) trip down to the East coast of the U.S. But the weather maps show an interesting picture. We have a nice high pressure area sitting over us right now, but there are multiple hurricanes down south (which threaten to come our way), big storms in the North Atlantic, and new lows forming up over the midwest.

Satellite image of current weather Map of current weather  

Reminds us of the old curse -- "may you live in interesting times." Well, for sure we can't stay in the St. Lawrence for long, because it's already cold enough to freeze our butts. So we are going to have to thread our way through this maze. We'll keep you all posted.